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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old December 6th, 2007, 08:27 PM   #1
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Location: Cedar Falls, IA
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Filming outdoors

What do you guys who film in the outdoors as far as getting the correct exposure? Do you adjust the apeture, shutter speed, AE shift, or gain? Are you using the "A", "Av", or "Tv" modes? Also what about custom presets? How about whitebalance for changing lighting conditions, do you rely on the automatic whitebalance or do you suggest using a whitebalance card to manually set the whitebalance for a certain lighting condition? I know this is a ton of questions but I'm knew to the website and have don a ton of reading and it's really getting my interest boiling! Do you also run zebra stripes to help with the exposure and if so what setting do you run them on..85,90,95,100? We mainly film outdoor scenes in the timber or field edges. We experience changing lighting conditions frequently with dawn and dusk as well as messing with shadows a lot. Thanks for the help and maybe you can pick apart and help us with just a few of the many questions we've got! Thanks again
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Old December 7th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #2
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Russ, with me, (and probably many of the XL2 owners here) I pretty much shoot manual everything.
1: I almost always manual white balance. I do use the presets rarely, and never use the auto wb.
2: I don't use the Av or Tv modes, but always try to select my own settings. In ideal situations, when shooting 60i or 30p I usually try for shutter speed of 1/60th of a second with the apeture as wide open as possible. If I need to, I'll use the neutral density filters to darken the scene. My motivation for the apeture setting is depth of field, for the shutter speed it's to get a nice blend with the frame rate. Doesn't always work, but that's what I try for.
3: I always make sure to double check and take "gain" off auto, and try to set it to 0 or -3. IMO, the worst scenes I've ever had was with gain set to "auto" ... the shot had so much grain I was ready to jump off a building and trash a whole days work. It was (literally) not a pretty picture.
4: Take your audio settings off Auto as well, and manually adjust them. The auto settings can take the bg noise way above average, and will crush the audio peaks when you don't want that to happen.

About the only "auto" thing I will use sometimes is the auto-focus, but lately I"m even getting away from that.

It's a great camera. Have fun.

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Old December 7th, 2007, 12:37 AM   #3
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Russ, I never use anything but manual. Definitely the way to go. I do use the outdoor preset for when I'm just shooting for fun and stuff but do white-balance whenever I'm doing a project. Basically put on the ND filter and then adjust all your settings.
Nick Royer
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Old December 7th, 2007, 07:51 AM   #4
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Here is another question, up until a couple weeks ago we had videoed everything on "A" and auto. Two weeks ago we videoed a scene and the colors were horrible! Everything seemed so dull and anything that was the color white was like it was overexposed; such as; the sky, the little snow; and my face. Would having an over exposed scene cause discoloration? The scene is extremely clear but there just isn't any vibrant colors. Last note all the custom presets are still like they were from factory.
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Old December 7th, 2007, 09:55 PM   #5
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I really am not an expert at this but I have been at it a little. First of all, What vibrant colors did you have that seemed dull? Several factors can impact this. Assuming your white balance is set manualy and is correct, I would suggest tinkering with your custom presets. These can be reset to factory settings by selecting this command in the menu. Basically, (as I understand it) you are in the default mode for all the vairables setting's that are at your disposal in the custom presets. For me the name "presets" was misleading I thought I had to do it "pre" shooting. This is not the case, you can change it on the fly on the menu.

You can adjust the color saturation and other presets to enhance the colors that you want to gain some "pop" with.

As far as the over exposure. It is hard to say the impact of this with out seeing the shots. But my experience, is that if the over exposer is bad enough it will impact your colors and other items. However, some of my better scenes I have shot are with "some" over exposure. My experience in trying to rid the "zebras" in a "non" controlled lighting enviorment; If nothing is over exposed then several things are starving for light. However, if you can over expose a couple small white areas you can find a decent balance.

For me, I stay in manual and I keep AE at 0, gain at 0, The ND filters, I have used in extreme bright light otherwise I adjust my exposer with the Fstop/Iris and shutter speed. It really depends on what you want your depth of field to look like. Since you are filming outdoors and getting the sky in your shots, you may want a slow shutter with a small Fstop to try and gain some clarity on your back ground shots. This can add a 3D look. However, if you are in a deer stand and shooting down to the ground your depth of field will be equal to your targets focal length and won't matter much.

Back to your original questions. For me Zebra stipes are my best friend. They show the portions that are being over exposed. My Zebra runs at 90 and I have never changed it. (Especially for your efforts) You are shooting at dusk and dawn when the light can change dramitcally in a short period. When I shoot in those conditions. (Youth flag football games at 8:00am and Practice 6:00pm) I think it is a must to always adjust to keep some small amounts of zebra. I also manually adjust the white balance as the conditions change.

I am really just getting used to what the setting's do and trying to find different things to shoot.

When you advance yourself you can work the shadows out to certain degree ( I am not there yet). Check out this tutorial on the below link. It has helped with several thing's. If you get a chance load some shots for all of us to look at.
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Old December 8th, 2007, 10:32 AM   #6
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Thank you, I think we've are starting to really figure out that taking the gain off auto and manually setting the whitebalance will be a good start. We're starting to learn just what the iris and shutter speed really do and how adjusting them can improve shots. Thanks guys!
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